Statutory Annual Inspection

An image of a Home Office Circular

Traditionally certifying authorities have carried out their annual statutory inspection of a sports ground during the close season of the sport played at the ground.  These days with increases in ground sharing arrangements with other sports, pop concerts and other events taking place at many grounds there does not seem to be a completely ‘closed’ season anymore but most Local Authorities continue to carry out their inspections during the summer months.

Under the provisions of section 10B of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and section 34 of the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1989 Local Authorities are required to undertake inspections of designated sports grounds and regulated stands in accordance with the guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The guidance in respect of designated grounds is contained in Home Office Circular 72/87 http://www.safetyatsportsgrounds.org.uk/publications/hoc-72-1987 and in respect of regulated stands in Home Office Circular 97/88 http://www.safetyatsportsgrounds.org.uk/publications/hoc-97-1988

The guidance requires Local Authorities to be satisfied that the inspections are carried out by a person or persons qualified for that purpose. The inspections are therefore usually carried out by a multi-disciplinary team which includes the council’s structural engineer, the council’s electrical engineer, the fire authority, the police authority, the ambulance authority, and the ground safety officer.

The inspection by the Local Authority is not intended to shift responsibility for spectator safety away from the certificate holder or to duplicate work that should be undertaken by or on behalf of the certificate holder. Instead it is designed to check that the certificate holder is complying with the provisions of the operations manual or the safety certificate conditions for properly maintaining the sports ground and its fittings.

The certificate holder remains responsible for appointing suitably qualified persons to undertake the structural appraisal and other inspections and tests prescribed in the safety certificate or accompanying operations manual.  They should also make available to the local authority the records and certificates of safety systems, a building/structural maintenance report signed by an approved person(s) confirming that a complete inspection of the sports ground has been carried out and identifying any repair or maintenance work which is considered to be necessary, to ensure that all structures are provided and maintained in accordance with current British Standards, Codes of Practice and/or relevant Guidance. Where any report submitted indicates that repair or maintenance works are necessary, the report should be accompanied by a programme of works.

SGSA factsheet